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Grace and Gratitude

The stars talk about the Thanksgiving traditions they’re grateful for—and their plans for this year’s holiday.

Every Thanksgiving I go see my dad [in Texas]. That’s my time I go to the ranch and help dad. My brother usually comes up for that, but we have an annual snake hunt. Basically we crawl under my dad’s house and remove anywhere from 10-15 rattlesnakes. We send them off and they milk the venom out and use it for heart medicine and various things. Then we usually smoke a brisket—we don’t have Thanksgiving turkey.
Basically we just have dinner with the family back in North Carolina. It’s a pretty simple kind of thing. It’s different now because my brothers are having kids and my grandparents have passed away, for the most part. So you can kind of see the whole shift changing. I don’t have to sit at the “kids table” anymore, although I feel that with my mature level I probably should sit over with the kids!
Thanksgiving is definitely a time for the family to sit around the table and each person say what they are most thankful for. Also, we go around the table and each person prays before we eat. A real time of reflection on how blessed we are.
I usually spend Thanksgiving day traveling all over southeast Alabama and south Georgia trying to see everybody and making sure not to leave anyone out, which translates to eating entirely too much turkey, dressing, southern style casseroles, and sweets at each and every stop. If you don’t eat something while you’re there, you’ll have to fix a plate to take with you. There really isn’t any sort of method to this madness, as every year seems to be a little different plan and locale, but the one tradition that holds up no matter what is on the Friday after all the mayhem subsides, I spend the whole day on the couch watching all the football games I’ve missed on the DVR, with the cell phone turned off, and doing absolutely nothing . . . this I am so very thankful for!
I’m big into Deep Frying a turkey. I’ve come up with a pretty great marinade that I inject before doing a Cajun Dry rub. And, of course, football, sharing some time and laughs with friends.
DAMON JOHNSON (Whiskey Falls)
My tradition is to simply make sure I’m off the road and home on that Thursday. Thanksgiving is hands down my wife’s favorite holiday, plus I’m a junkie for all the cranberry sauce and football!
JASON McCOY (The Road Hammers)
I’m the lucky guy who gets two Thanksgiving celebrations. Being Canadian, we usually get a bunch of Canucks together and have a big dinner for our Thanksgiving in October. Then, I get to do it all again with my friends here in Nashville. Two Thanksgivings . . . hey, I’ve got a lot to be thankful for!
CLAYTON BELLAMY (The Road Hammers)
Every year I celebrate Thanksgiving with a large mix of French and Polish food, a few bottles of red wine, lots of tall tales and a healthy dose of hugs with family!
I guess our typical family tradition is, Dad leaves for the battlefield. That’s when I go to Iraq every year, and I spend my Thanksgiving with the troops. That’s what our Thanksgiving is. This will be my sixth time. We’re there for about 10 days. And I’ve gotta say, though I miss being around my family, nowadays, they get some pretty good chow out there on the big bases. We always get some good turkey, and once in awhile we’ll run into some lobster! But Thea and the boys always save me a little turkey and some dressing, so I always get my share when I get home.
We always go to St. Louis . . . I have a lot of family there that I adore. Everybody’s loud, and all the women in my family have the same cackle laugh! So when we all get together, it’s like the loudest house ever!

For more on stars and Thanksgiving traditions, check out the Dec. 1 issue of Country Weekly.